Lee Hicks of Verizon has driven his cost down by 50% with his "One Fiber" program. He's replaced 200,000 old boxes with 20,000 modern, efficient pieces of gear. This is definitive proof that new networks are much more efficient than older ones. The technology is much better. (The latency also comes down.) Reliance Jio now has 330,000,000 million Indians on a network with such low costs that it is profitable at a price of US$5/mpnth. (Audited financials.)
Charlie Ergen's DirecTV will buy Boost from Sprint, assuming the state suits don't block the Sprint-T-Mobile deal. Boost will bring 9 million customers, a full retail operation, and some important spectrum to DirecTV, a very good start for a new network. All will be initially served through an MVNO deal with T-Mobile, but Charlie wants to build his own network as fast a practical. Ergen sees it this way:
"We have a lot of incentives to build our own network. I think it would be -- and not the least of which are severe penalties if we don't, but irregardless of that, we're going to build this network out and it's hard. All the incumbents have built networks that were primarily designed for voice and were built and designed architected in the '80s, but we're -- this is 2019.
And we don't want yesterday's network. And architectures today that everybody wants to get to. Our open architecture is where you're not relying on just one equipment supplier that equipment becomes off the shelf where it's interchangeable and the majority of your network works on software, which allows you to do your network to do so many more things at a lower cost. And so, we have the ability to do that. I mean that, I'm probably bad at analogies here, but you can imagine -- these guys are building the internal combustion engine and we're building electric cars, except we're not in a situation, our electric cars are going to be half-priced.
They're going to be 50% cheaper than the pit, the cars they're building and better yet you don't have to plug it in to charge it. It is just going to be charged because we do it in software. So you have to plug it in. So you'd imagine if somebody was building electric car today that was superior in every way, went faster, so it's more robust at better user features, cost half as much money and you didn't have to wait in line to fill it up, that's what we're going to have.
And the other guys are going to get there, but the other guys have to tier their networks down and then they got to rebuild. ... But our network in our phones will be different because we architect it. We could take advantage of massive MIMO. So our tower placement is different than the incumbent tower placement. We get to use things like eSIM, even our cable structuring and protocol is different, all right. It means that we do things that big shade you see at the bottom of towers today, that's going to be in the cloud. Right. So all that's different. We get the best of both worlds, which as we get to use the old as long as we need to, but we get to build the new. And someday when we get a chance to show you the economics of that, that's powerful. We get -- and our build-out will be where the towers are used -- where people are using that. That's where we're going to build our efforts and so we get to build out very highly efficient deployed towers, all right."
HHe believes "owner economics" on his own equipment will prove very profitable. That's a reasonable goal for a new network built today. It will emphasize Open System and best of breed low-cost, interoperable hardware.
Rakuten, the new fourth network in Japan, has similar plans. It will begin to roll out in October, although installing radios across Japan is going more slowly.